Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Where’s my Yale education/ paved road to the white house?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

When my mom moved out of the house in Pittsburgh there were a lot of odds and ends that ended up in boxes that are now in my Basement/ Garage/ Rock and or Roll train wreck. One of those items was a daily diary that my grandfather kept. It’s not like a diary in the aspect that he listed his hopes and dreams or boys he had crushes on. It was more of an appointment book with notes. There are about 4 lines per day and some days there’s an entry and some days he skips it altogether.  At the beginning of the year this year I dug in and found the notebook from 1949*.

Every day when I start work I open up the notebook and check on that day, 60 years ago. Here’s a selection:

Today, Aug 3, (Wednesday) 1949: “G. Witherspoon-Thomas, Caltex Producing Dept. Lunch with Ken Gold and Jack Detwhiler + Caltex Engrs. A. Rutan & wife”

As far as I can tell**, Caltex was the “California Texas Oil Company” formed in 1936, as a joint venture between The Texas Company (later Texaco) and The Standard Oil Company of California (later Chevron) which according to wikipedia was formed to market the oil that had recently been discovered in Saudi Arabia.

Grandpa was working for Westinghouse at the time, so for sport I search for a variety of combinations of “caltex”, “westinghouse” and “1949”

I find the following:

  • Repeated mention of Caltex v. USA, a semi-historical case researched at length by folks such as Harry Truman, which was designed to break some of the monopolies of the day.
  • In 1949 partners Caltex, Westinghouse and Bechtel began work on the Atomic Energy Commission’s Van de Graaff nuclear accelerator at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
  • Emperor Yumiyoro of Japan claims in the late 40’s that Japan was not defeated by General Eisenhower, but in fact by General Electric, sighting many deals with companies such as Caltex and Westinghouse “robbing the Japanese people by charging unsuitable royalties”

Interestingly, this is the area where the most information is. Apparently both Westinghouse and Caltex had extensive interests in post war Japan. Again and again the two names are associated with business deals that are designed to profit from the depressed post-war Japanese economy. 

Also interestingly, my Grandfather did extensive business with Japan in those days. I mean, I wasn’t there or anything, but there’s a bunch of Japanese stuff that we got from Grandpa and a whole stack of pictures of him and Japanese businessmen.

Even more interesting, in a report declassified in the 80’s, Westinghouse and specifically the division that my grandfather worked for, were the main team that built the fuses for the first atomic bombs.

It’s wonderful. It’s one tiny little page of a appointment diary, and yet… in my imagination, it uncovers a sinister conspiracy of a major US company with middle eastern holdings to at once end a  world war and then profit massively from it.***

However, I might be making all this up and maybe I just can’t read his handwriting.

 

*He starts in 1946 and runs solidly into the 80’s

**and this is just me and the internet who are talking, a with a healthy amount of props to Wikipedia

*** If this is the case…where’s my post war trust-fund and huge Swiss bank account?

Holiday Schedule (pronounced Shed-yule)

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Memorial day is coming up. It’s one of our few American holidays. It’s the same as what the Europeans call “Bank Holidays”, however they get on average 10 holidays to our 1. I thought as a service to Americans everywhere I’d let you know what the 10 European holidays that will be place up against memorial day so that at least we can stay informed and not seem so provincial

  1. Cheese rolling day
  2. Say heeeeelllllo00000 to the queen day
  3. Guy Faulkes Day
  4. We still own the colonies day
  5. Hey we’re French day (every second Thursday)
  6. Surrenderance Day (France only)
  7. Pope day
  8. Double pope day
  9. Fat guy with a monocle day
  10. What were we*just* talking about day (Amsterdam only)

The balloon and the contract with the universe

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Today, may the 4th,  is “Star Wars day” which doesn’t make any sense until you have someone say it out loud to you.

Actually try it yourself. Say it out loud, don’t just say you’re gonna say it and assume that because I’m just some blinking text on your screen I won’t notice, you seriously will not get the joke until you actually talk.

did you do it?

May the forth be with you!

It’s so dorky and hysterical. Okay huge  seagueway….

So the real topic of discussion is the blue balloon and San Francisco drivers.

There was this blue balloon that was across from Delores Park this weekend, not a helium balloon, just the regular kind of blow it up yourself kinda balloon. It’s a little bigger than your standard party balloon, maybe the size of a prize winning pumpkin. It’s robin’s egg blue like maybe it came from a baby shower*.

 I was driving back from dropping Jon off after the baseball game.** The Balloon is just rolling around in the center of 18th and church. Slowly moving from one lane to the other. This was the weird thing: people were avoiding running it over.

I was three back at the stop sign so I got to watch 6  or 8 different drivers trying to avoid this balloon, all the while anxious for my turn cause I am totally gonna run this thing over.

Every time someone drives by the wind from their car slightly changes the balloon position, so for me to get to hit it without screwing up traffic patterns is gonna take some magic. I watch and will the balloon to be on my side***, I am calling on the universe to let me pop this balloon.

However, the universe had other plans for that balloon, because right before I get my turn a Muni-train comes by and brings with it a gusty breeze****. The balloon is carried well into the park and my chance to pop a balloon with my truck is removed.

I think, though, that because the universe seems to be honoring contracts these days, that there will be another balloon or maybe and box filled with pudding or a plastic bag full of streamers and glitter***** that will be in my way soon enough.

I can wait. You hear that universe?

* It’s a boy!

**Giants 1 to 0 in the bottom of the 10th– it was the smallest of ball. And Zito didn’t pitch bad despite not getting the win.

*** I saw Neko Case “in conversation” and she mentioned buying a bunch of pianos on craigslist. This makes me decide I want to be the kind of person that owns a piano. Jody said that when you “put something into the universe” it just happens. So right after that someone is selling an upright piano across the street. Sadly by the time I got back from running Jen home someone had bought it, which is fine, cause now the universe knows and I will run across another one.

**** Cool things that rhyme with gusty breeze: lusty fleas, Dusty please! , musty crease, trusty trees, klutzy knees and crusty sneeze

***** In San Francisco I am certain there’s more than 1 bag of streamers and glitter. Actually my guess is that there’s probably 1 bag of streamers and glitter per every ten residents of the 7 by 7.